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Open Source, Open Standards Under Attack In Europe 164

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-take-our-source-but-you'll-never-take-our-freedom dept.
Glyn Moody writes "A battle for the soul of European IT is taking place behind closed doors in Brussels. At stake is the key Digital Agenda for Europe, due to be unveiled in a month's time. David Hammerstein, ex-Member of European Parliament for the Greens, tweeted last week: 'SOS to everyone as sources confirm that Kroes is about to eliminate "open standards" policy from EU digital agenda; Kroes has been under intense lobbying pressure from Microsoft to get rid of interoperability and open source goals of EU.' This is confirmed by the French magazine PC Inpact (Google translation), which also managed to obtain a copy of the draft Digital Agenda (DOC). It's currently supportive of both open source and open standards — but for how much longer?"
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Open Source, Open Standards Under Attack In Europe

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  • War (Score:3, Funny)

    by Aphoxema (1088507) * on Monday March 29, 2010 @05:41PM (#31662770) Homepage Journal

    This is terribly exciting and I'm not even sure why...

    • You heard the man, time for WAR! Blood for the blood-god. Tear out their eyes and rip their throats as open as the GNU
      • by Aphoxema (1088507) *

        You heard the man, time for WAR! Blood for the blood-god. Tear out their eyes and rip their throats as open as the GNU

        It has begun.

    • Re:War (Score:5, Insightful)

      by erroneus (253617) on Monday March 29, 2010 @07:10PM (#31663752) Homepage

      It is terribly exciting and worrisome at the same time. Microsoft has dominated the world with Windows and by leveraging the OS, they are dominating is many other areas as well. They are unquestionably an abusive monopoly. With software patents and other intellectual property types creating road blocks and toll roads to innovation and less expensive solutions.

      Open standards is one way to make sure things are fair to ensure that competition is alive and well. Microsoft cannot compete with others using open standards and expect to win every time. (I would have no problem if they conformed to open standards and actually offered a better product.) But instead of competing on the basis of quality, they lobby for laws and policies to change in their favor.

      Microsoft is a corrupt company catering to corrupt politicians. I hope many EU leaders start to take offence to Microsoft's tactics and push back hard.

      • by shentino (1139071)

        Those leaders will just demand bigger bribes to look the other way.

      • Re:War (Score:5, Informative)

        by SpzToid (869795) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @03:27AM (#31667396)

        I hope many EU leaders start to take offence to Microsoft's tactics and push back hard.

        Well the EU antitrust office did declare Microsoft to be an abusive monopoly in 2004.

        http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=860&dat=20040323&id=BAAgAAAAIBAJ&sjid=8BUFAAAAIBAJ&pg=1269,2934192 [google.com]

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by BitZtream (692029)

        You need to lookup the definition of Monopoly. Stop using words you don't actually know the meaning of. MS was never at any point a monopoly at anything other than selling its own products.

        Abusive, certainly. Monopoly, never.

        This isn't about Open Standards. The OSS world and slashdot in particular don't know the meaning of the word. In this context Open Standard pretty much translates to Our Standard. If it doesn't fit your perfect little world you throw it out as open or standard, while completely ig

        • by erroneus (253617)

          I guess the US and the EU courts must ALSO look up their definitions of monopoly and reconsider their case history against Microsoft. Your defense of Microsoft is weak. Open standard means a standard that is defined clearly and independent of any particular plaform or implementation. Established/defacto standards? Yes, we know that DOC and XLS are defacto standards for use in business, but are they even fully defined in a way that can be implemented effectively by others? Defacto just means that we're

        • Get out of your economics class taught by the underpaid professor who has no real-world data on why his beliefs are right, and look at the facts. Making a better product got dozens (if not more) companies bought out by Microsoft's huge pockets, whose products then disappeared. Making that better product did not actually end up replacing Microsoft's products at all. Microsoft has a monopoly on the desktop and is able to distribute its inferior products to users directly without any marketing energy. That

      • by mpe (36238)
        Microsoft is a corrupt company catering to corrupt politicians.

        "Corrupt" is a rather redundant adjective when it comes to politicians. Given that this appears to be the most common kind of politician you find in many places, especially where "career politicians" are vastly overrepresented.
  • Desperation? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheSovereign (1317091) on Monday March 29, 2010 @05:48PM (#31662838)
    Is it me or does Microsoft seem to be getting more and more desperate for control?
    • They seem to be 'harmonising' their opposition Chinese Govt style

      http://www.katonda.com/blog/922/microsoft-bing-trying-kill-open-office [katonda.com]

    • Re:Desperation? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by phantomfive (622387) on Monday March 29, 2010 @07:16PM (#31663814) Journal
      It's you. They've always been desperate for control. It was the thing that motivated them to build IE, they didn't want to let someone else control the internet. .Net was initially motivated by the same thing: it was going to be a kind of cloud computing thing, where all applications in the world ran on Microsoft's cloud. Which is why it was called .net in the first place, and why it compiles to byte-code instead of machine code, even though it only is ever run on one architecture and one operating system (yeah, Mono, but that wasn't in Microsoft's plans).

      On the other hand, Microsoft HAS gotten more involved in politics, and that may be what you are observing. They've gotten involved more and more ever since the anti-trust case. I read an article a decade ago discussing how Microsoft realized that to stay out of problems with the government, it helps to 'donate'. They are very equal opportunity givers, giving both to Republican and Democrat, [opensecrets.org] depending on who they think is more likely to win.
      • please do explain to me how byte code gives them more control than machine code ? especially with mono around ? and how the ARM in phones is the same as x86 ?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by phantomfive (622387)
          Well, it doesn't particularly, but I think you misunderstood my comment, I probably wasn't clear enough. Java was created with the idea of running on every platform then in existence, and Sun made an effort to make that happen. .Net on the other hand, was conceptualized as something that would run on the cloud (before the word cloud was used in this context), with the idea that it wouldn't matter what hardware the cloud was running on, as long as Microsoft's system was somewhere in there.

          However, the clo
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by BitZtream (692029)

        .NET had nothing to do with moving everything to the MS cloud. They hadn't even dreamt up Azure yet, I don't think anyone had even considered the cloud computing retardedness going on now. It was purely the marketing term for the public to know it as. It was riding the height of the .COM boom. But good for you for pretending to know what you're talking about.

        Which is why it was called .net in the first place, and why it compiles to byte-code instead of machine code, even though it only is ever run on on

      • by hitmark (640295)

        .net got started, partially, as a single sign on system for online services. Never got much traction beyond msn.com and related services. Funny enough, facebook and twitter seems to be heading much the same way, with more "positive" (eye of the beholder) results.

    • Re:Desperation? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Yaa 101 (664725) on Monday March 29, 2010 @08:10PM (#31664432) Journal

      Not too long ago I was modded troll for saying: while you buy their products, they buy your political leaders.

      http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1571214&cid=31359062 [slashdot.org]

      It is still true!

      • It's probably not important, but I think the reason you got modded troll in the other post is because the first sentence is nigh incomprehensible, and that made it sound like you were trolling. Your current post is a lot more clear. Whenever I got modded troll (at least when it's unfairly, heh), I figure it's because people didn't understand what I was saying, so I examine my post and try to figure out what made them think it was a troll. Sometimes it's just that people don't have the background knowledg
        • by Yaa 101 (664725)

          It is not really incomprehensible, the topic was about politicization of the software, I merely said that we (the OSS/FS) were dragged into that by the corps.
          Besides, it's my writing style to be concise, direct and to the point.

          • Well, whatever, but if you keep finding yourself modded troll unfairly, you might want to look at it. When I said incomprehensible, what I meant is that it took me a few readthroughs to figure it out, which often does make it incomprehensible to many mods. No one's willing to do the work.
      • by BitZtream (692029)

        You're so witty and insightful.

        You've realized MS is just like every other company on the planet.

        Congratulations, you've discovered something everyone knew about before MS was even founded.

        I'm really not sure why you seem to think this is unique to MS? Read Google News for a few days you'll quickly realize its how the world works. Let me go ahead and political it up some more by pointing out a great example elsewhere: The health care bill. Now I don't care if your for it or against it as it stands, I'm

        • by Yaa 101 (664725)

          wow you got some issues now don't ya?

          I know exactly how corps work, besides the solution is is my answer, don't buy their stuff if you don't want their political influence.

  • In AD 2010 (Score:1, Funny)

    by PenisLands (930247)
    War was beginning.
  • objection (Score:4, Informative)

    by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Monday March 29, 2010 @05:51PM (#31662888)

    IT, whether European or otherwise, has no soul

  • I dont know much about this and am curious why it is so important. Wont open source continue to be open source independent of what the EU decides? Or is this saying that the EU gov'ts will only use open source programs, and that is defined by this document? More info would be appreciated, the article didnt really touch on the importance.
    • Re:Importance (Score:4, Informative)

      by ThePhilips (752041) on Monday March 29, 2010 @06:03PM (#31663034) Homepage Journal

      BSA tries to ensure that EU bureaucracy would use the software of the companies it represents, in the case mainly Microsoft and namely M$Office. Wanna send a paper to a ministry electronically? Gotta buy the WinWord.

      One has to carefully weigh all the factors: bribes one can get off M$ right now + bribes one can get off M$ later vs. ... On second thought, forget about the open thing we have discussed before.

      P.S. FSFE take on the case [fsfe.org].

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by alexborges (313924)

      Governments make up for MOST of the IT market if you meassure it in dollars. A government unfriendly, by mandate, to open source solutions, and obvlivious as to why precisely in that market is Open Source so important, is a danger to the comercial viability of open source software.

    • Re:Importance (Score:5, Informative)

      by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday March 29, 2010 @06:06PM (#31663060)

      I dont[sic] know much about this and am curious why it is so important. Wont[sic] open source continue to be open source independent of what the EU decides?

      First this is more about open standards than open source software. Some organizations certainly will use them regardless, but lacking a clear directive, the status quo rules, and that tends to be proprietary formats and protocols now dominating the industry and harming interoperability and reducing competition.

      Or is this saying that the EU gov'ts will only use open source programs, and that is defined by this document?

      Originally this document established a preference for more open formats that are more likely to be usable to later generations and which provide more choice of both IT vendors and clients going forward. This was a recognition of the importance of open and documented protocols and formats. Note, nothing in this was pro or con of any given vendor. Rather it was in favor of open standardization where all vendors could compete instead of just one vendor (read Microsoft). The idea was that it is important for say word processing in EU governments to standardize on a format where any company could create an interoperable solution so governments could take competitive bids on a level playing field.

    • Re:Importance (Score:5, Informative)

      by chrb (1083577) on Monday March 29, 2010 @06:28PM (#31663278)

      The leaked "Digital Agenda" doesn't appear to be so bad.. it mainly aims to promote cross-border interoperable electronic ID, health systems, and open standards in general. This will make it easier for European citizens to trade and physically relocate across borders (the existing systems are different in every country, and moving between countries is a PITA). The reason this kind of stuff is important is that the aims and details will be hammered out at a European level, then implemented as policy by the various counties of Europe. Once a few of the more powerful countries (Germany, France, UK) establish a common framework for digital ID or whatever, it will be required to interact with government online services in those countries, a software ecosystem will develop around these protocols, and the other countries will follow within a few years. The EU will provide funding for development of software platforms that implement these open standards. The potential risk here is that Microsoft and other companies will twist the definition of "open" to include proprietary patented protocols (which are "open" because you are free to license them at some cost), and then they can lobby countries and companies taking part in public sector procurements to choose closed standard solutions, which would obviously be a bad thing for cross-border interoperability. The relevant parts of the document are:

      The Digital Agenda outlines a set of crucial policy actions, including legal measures and programmes that must be launched or upgraded to get the Union on track. The actions are clustered in six areas:
      (1)Very fast internet access;
      (2)A digital single market;
      (3)A sustainable digital society;
      (4)Trust and security;
      (5)Research and innovation;
      (6)Open standards and interoperability.

      Use CIP support seamless cross-border public services, based on open and internationally recognised standards, and a European eID management infrastructure;

      An "EU eHealth Passport" could give citizens secure online access to their personal health data. On such a platform, improved medical services can be developed raising efficiency and patient empowerment. The Commission will work with the competent authorities to equip 15% of Europeans with such passports by 2015. The eHealth Lead Market Initiative1 will promote standardisation and interoperability testing and certification.

      Electronic identity (eID) technologies and services are key to trust in electronic transactions and in e-payment systems, including mobile payments. A European framework for eID and authentication, and internationally agreed standards and practices can help the cross-border recognition of eID and increase citizens' trust and confidence. A European eID and authentication framework by [.] is the headline target for this action area.

      Promoting more open standards
      The headline target for this action area is to reform the EU standardisation regime by 2015 to reflect the rise and growing importance of ICT standards developed by various fora and consortia, in particular as regards the internet.
      Another challenge is to ensure that public authorities – including the EU institutions – can make the best use of the full range of existing open standards when procuring hardware, software and IT services, for example to adhere to technology neutrality and to avoid technological lock-in to legacy ICT.
      Transparent disclosure rules for intellectual property rights (IPR) and licensing conditions in the context of standard-setting can contribute to lower royalty demands for the use of standards and thus to lower market entry costs for SMEs. This can be achieved without a negative impact on the owners of IPRs. Therefore rules for ex-ante disclosure of essential IPR and licensing terms and conditions will be promoted.
      Key actions
      Reform the governance system for ICT standards in Europe to recognise ICT fora and consortia standards;
      Issue a Recommendation to streamline the use of open standards in p

  • That's clearly very positive about open standards and open source. And then, back in November of last year, a draft version of the revised EIF was leaked [.pdf]. It revealed a staggering re-definition of what openness meant by suggesting that “closed” was part of the “openness continuum”:

    Except that your claimed new definition doesn't claim that proprietary software is considered "open" and actually spins proprietary software in a very bad light:

    and lie at one end of the spectrum while non-documented, proprietary specifications, proprietary software and the reluctance or resistance to reuse solutions, i.e. the "not invented here" syndrome, lie at the other end.

    This definition is funny because one can come up with a number of examples of poor or non-existant documentation, NIH syndrome, a resistance to code reuse within OSS.

  • by gilesjuk (604902) <.giles.jones. .at. .zen.co.uk.> on Monday March 29, 2010 @05:57PM (#31662968)

    With the global slump politicians are under pressure to spend money on software, not use open source.

    Of course, the layman doesn't always understand that open source software is sold commercially as well.

    Under freedom of information laws surely we're entitled to see information in a format anyone can read?

    • by moteyalpha (1228680) on Monday March 29, 2010 @06:16PM (#31663152) Homepage Journal
      There is a point there, what politicians want is a revenue stream to support them. Open source does not provide that. There is an advantage for <strike>slaves</strike> layman in open source or open technology, as they work less to achieve the same effect with open source, but this is counter to the interests of government. I doubt that anything that people say will be heard as the one common interest all political parties have is to keep the revenue stream and companies that sell products can take money from people and give it to them and in return they support monopolies and those who keep them in power.
      If open source simply established a trust that sold compiled versions of open source software and used the money to <strike>bribe</strike> pay sales tax and place ads, they could possibly supplant Megalosoft..
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Ahem. Tilting over to proprietary software won't create more jobs. It will simply just allow vendors to A) sell more copies, and B) increase the amount of money that *leaves* the economy, since most of it would go to out of EU businesses, as opposed to if local companies handled the open source job opportunities. So common sense would dictate that if what you're suggesting, the proprietary vendors should be given the finger. Unfortunately they can pay for better dinners, and more wine.

  • ... fuck sakes, somebody stop them!

    Even europeans can be bought this easily?

  • Acta related? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by solune (803114) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `weiveyesetep'> on Monday March 29, 2010 @06:09PM (#31663110) Journal

    I wonder if the ACTA plays into this?

    Seems to me open standards would hinder a closed-sourced DRM scheme designed to limit communication.

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      Seems to me open standards would hinder a closed-sourced DRM scheme designed to limit communication.

      Why? There's nothing stopping someone from taking any open standard format and slapping on a DRM scheme.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        And then it would no longer fit the open standard. Hmm, almost seems like you should have thought of that.

        So are you a troll or a shill?

  • "The military order Havoc! [phrases.org.uk] was a signal given to the English military forces in the Middle Ages to direct the soldiery (in Shakespeare's parlance 'the dogs of war') to pillage and chaos."
  • Supportive? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Qubit (100461) on Monday March 29, 2010 @06:13PM (#31663136) Homepage Journal

    "...which also managed to obtain a copy of the draft Digital Agenda (DOC). It's currently supportive of both open source and open standards — but for how much longer?"

    Why am I even surprised that the agenda is in MS-Word's old binary file format? Maybe they're just supportive of open standards for other people, or for hypothetical people in a hypothetical world, perhaps.

  • So, as a person living in the EU - any ideas where I should go (preferably online) to complain and raise my voice against this?
  • EU is more like US than y'all think.

    The EU Corporate-Welfare government is against you.
    The US Corporate-Welfare government is against us.

    Government politicians and appointees are well paid (in trade or money) to provide substantial and legal Corporate-Welfare too FuckUS and FuckEU.

    It ain't people democracy or merit capitalism in the US, EU, RURU, China.... Yep, life is hard, but you can always eat-shit die before or after the next global-recession (that ain't their darn fault).

  • Apparently the European Digital Agenda Commissioner (2010-2014) is a 70 year old woman who according to her webpage [europa.eu] has "an ongoing interest in mental health issues." Seriously? They couldn't find anyone more qualified? How many 70 year old people are there who even know what open source means? I'm not an ageist nor a sexist, but I'm pretty sure about all of my friends would have been more qualified to this particular job.
  • In my experience, Europe, sadly, is more strongly in corporate hands than the US. The EU effectively hands out many billions in subsidies to corporations. (That's in addition to all the agricultural subsidies, which are an evil that is as prevalent in the EU as it is in the US.)

    • by dudpixel (1429789)

      yes it is a very sad world when companies have more power than the government. I mean, we set up these governments to choose what is best for the people and that is the one thing they do not do. They do what they want and what rich corporations want, and the people get shafted every time. Its not surprising really...but anyone who thinks there is fairness and rightness(?) in the world needs to take a look at this sort of thing.

      Is there any government in the world that is not at least partially corrupt?

  • Confirmation?! (Score:4, Informative)

    by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @01:35AM (#31666828) Homepage

    The French magazine cited for confirmation doesn't say anything about Microsoft.

    So all that leaves is with is that some guy twittered that the bogeyman^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^HMicrosoft is coming, and when we look at the latest draft of the Digital Agenda document--its still fine.

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